Most small business owners do not start or buy a business because they were interested in becoming marketing geniuses. Yet marketing is a critical success factor for any business, small or otherwise. And it’s easy to take a wrong turn where marketing is concerned.
Recently we spoke to Mark Montini, Chief Results Officer for m2M Strategies, a franchise marketing firm, about the biggest mistakes most new small business owners make. Known for his ability to architect fully-integrated distributed marketing programs, Mark has helped franchises, Fortune 500 companies, startups, non-profits, and even political organizations increase revenue. His work has been featured in newspapers across the country including the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today.
Mark Montini, m2M Strategies
“Small businesses can eliminate a lot of frustration by addressing the common marketing mistakes I see on a frequent basis,” says Montini. “Those mistakes are usually centered around focus – on the wrong data, the wrong tactics and even the wrong message.”
Montini says there are three primary marketing mistakes that can cause failure for any small business right from the start.
1. Focusing on the wrong metrics
Having access to all that data is a good thing, but it can serve to distract small business owners from the data that really matters. Montini says that “Profitable businesses aren’t built on vanity metrics like clicks, impressions and likes. Profitable businesses are built through metrics that can actually be deposited at the bank, so focus your attention on those.” He adds it’s critical to focus on the only two metrics that ultimately matter when it comes to marketing – Cost to Acquire a Customer and Lifetime Value of a Customer. “If cash flow is an issue you will want to focus on Monthly or Annual Customer Value instead of Lifetime Value, but the fundamental principle is the same. If the value (i.e. revenue) of a customer is greater than the cost to acquire a customer, you’re in good shape.”
2) Focusing on the wrong tactics
Too many small businesses gravitate only toward the trendy tactics and ignore the essential marketing tactics. They focus all their time and money on tactics that generate likes, followers, and opens while ignoring essential tactics lead conversion, customer retention, andonline reputation that generate dollars. “The result is a marketing plan that keeps them busy and feeling good but an income statement that makes them sick to their stomach,” says Montini.
Small business owners should focus first on tactics that maximize revenue from existing customers, increase thepercentage of leads that become customers, and delivering a customer experience that creates raving fans. Those essentials are the foundation for a profitable, stress- free business.
3. Focusing on telling and selling rather than the consumer experience
Consumers today define the brand, not the business, and they use technology and social media to tell the business – as well as hundreds, if not thousands, of other consumers – their perception of that brand.
Unfortunately, most business – both large and small – have failed to adapt their marketing to reflect this transformation. They continue to focus marketing on “telling and selling” via tactics like bulk emails, template postcards, and discount promotions.
“Consumer-defined brands focus marketing on customer experience and relationship,” says Montini. “They send thank you notes and satisfaction emails, for example, and deliver a consistent, world-class experience to retain their customers.”
The tactics are the same, but the focus is different. Define the desired customer experience and build marketing and operations around promoting and delivering that experience.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with deciding what you want your brand to be,” says Montini,”But at the end of the day it’s consumers who will decide if that’s what it really is.”